One of the big stories from the Philadelphia Eagles’ 41-33 Super Bowl LII win over the New England Patriots was Bill Belichick’s inexplicable decision to bench star cornerback Malcolm Butler.
While the choice to bench Butler left Patriots fans scratching their heads, it also had a similar impact on the Eagles’ coaching staff.
Butler had been one of New England’s best defensive players over the past three seasons. Philadelphia undoubtedly had game planned around attacking, or staying away from Butler, and one of their assistant coaches admitted they were shocked he wasn’t on the field.
“After the first series or two,” one assistant told TheMMQB about when they realized Butler wasn’t in the game. “‘We were like, ‘This guy’s not in the game! They have 23 (Patrick Chung) in there. That’s crazy!'”
With Butler out of the game, Chung found himself with the difficult task of guarding Nelson Agholor in the slot, while Eric Rowe was outmatched on the outside against either Alshon Jeffery or Torrey Smith.
“To go after 25 (Rowe),” the assistant said of the Eagles’ game plan with Butler out. “We could get Alshon (Jeffery) out there against him. We had Rowe on our team here in Philly, we knew that was a mismatch.”
Philadelphia torched the Patriots’ defense without Butler. The Eagles amassed 538 total yards in the win, with quarterback Nick Foles taking home MVP honors after throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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